Program Highlight

Program Highlight

Tax program provides $157,158 in refunds to the community!

AnewAmerica prepared tax returns for the first time: Pictured above, volunteers with staff member extraordinaire Lily Vargas and Doug Jalen, Director of Finance, who spearheaded the effort.

With over 150 returns prepared, our 2015 VITA program was a great success! The average income of our tax clients was $17,620.97. Our tax clients received a combined total refund amount of $157,158.00.

Many thanks go to volunteers: Hannah Davidoff, Maritza Duenas, Dena Greenblum, Alec Lepe, Debbie Mayer, and Sonali Wani for helping us serve clients at our Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose locations!

This program was funded in part by United Way Bay Area and by the Economic Security grantmaking strategy of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. We thank our partners and volunteers for their invaluable support.

See you again at next year's tax program! 

Every Day is #EarthDay at AnewAmerica.

Happy #EarthDay2015! More than ever, it's important for businesses to embrace sustainability. What's good for the environment is good for the community and good for business.

This #EarthDay, meet Elisabeth Cruz, owner of Benitez Produce, who operates a Good.To.Go. mobile produce cart in the San Jose area. Through her business, Elisabeth:

  • increases access to healthy, local, organic foods in her community
  • earns an income to support herself and her family
  • reduces her environmental footprint


Elisabeth Cruz, Good. To. Go. Vendor

Business name: Benitez Produce
Business type: Mobile produce cart
Business location: San Jose

Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, Elisabeth moved to California in 2007. She worked in the janitorial and fast food sectors until 2013. In 2014, seeing an opportunity to improve her family's financial circumstances while improving the health of local communities, Elisabeth enrolled in The Health Trust's Good.To.Go. Fresh Cart program.

As a proud partner of this innovative program, AnewAmerica provides business fresh cart vendor training to vendors and community based organizations, while fellow program partner, Sacred Heart Community Service, provides client outreach and vendor business technical assistance.

A Quick Snapshot of Elisabeth's Journey

2014: Started her business, Benitez Produce
Completed Fresh Carts Vendor Training with AnewAmerica
Began receiving business technical assistance from Sacred Heart Community Services
Purchased a van for her business
Secured start-up business loan with assistance from AnewAmerica

2015: Setting new milestones for Benitez Produce
Further Increase Revenue
Expansion Mode: Looking to open a second location

Elisabeth's husband, José Luis Benitez, has supported her throughout her journey. She is also proud to own a business that allows her flexibility in providing childcare for her two young children.

AnewAmerica honors Elisabeth and all of the participants in this program for their hard-work and commitment! AnewAmerica also thanks The Health Trust and Sacred Heart Community Service for providing an innovative approach to improving health and increasing income, while minimizing the impact on the environment!

Find out where the closest fresh cart is located to you!


IDA Programs

Gardening and Food Justice Program for Early Childhood Education Entrepreneurs

Healthy Roots

AnewAmerica has initiated a community food project with childcare business owners as part of our work in Social Responsibility and Food Justice. AnewAmerica is assisting daycare entrepreneurs to facilitate the launch of edible gardens, and supporting the development of gardening and nutrition curriculum within the daycares.

Healthy Roots is serving 28 daycare entrepreneurs, including 224 children, and 45 families in San Francisco, Novato, San Jose, and Richmond.

The Objectives

  • Increase the awareness of the importance of organic, sustainable edible gardening, and to increase the quality of nutrition for over 200 low-income children and their families.
  • Increase awareness about ecology. sustainable agriculture, nutrition, and protection of the environment.
  • Educate children about the importance of balanced nutrition and the link between eating fresh, healthy, local food, and their physical well-being.

Daycare Gardening Project Training for Daycare Entrepreneurs

AnewAmerica works with organizations devoted to sustainable garden development such as the Garden for the Environment, Ecology Center, and community volunteers to train and educate our entrepreneurs in the following ways:

  • Creating or enhance an edible organic garden
  • Implementing organic gardening curriculum into the educational component of their services
  • Educating children and parents on the benefits of edible gardens

The food produced in these gardens will be consumed by the children that attend the daycare, and the surplus will be taken home to their families

Policy Change

Our team of AnewAmerica staff and with support from Children’s Council have collaborated to increase the quality of nutrition and the implementation of the Healthy Roots gardening project in the following ways:

  • AnewAmerica has provided the entrepreneurs with support to develop a curriculum and a business policy in their daycare facility.
  • AnewAmerica has provided the daycare entrepreneur with the training on how they can be advocates in their daycare and communities for childhood nutrition and sustainable gardening
  • Conduct advocacy meetings with local and regional childhood agencies

For more information, contact Lisset Ramirez at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at (510) 532-5240.


Free Tax Assistance Available Now


Until April 15th, AnewAmerica will offer its free tax assistance program staffed with tax-certified volunteers.

Services are available in English and Spanish to anyone in the Bay Area who qualifies, including but not limited to AnewAmerica clients and alumni - so share with your friends and family!

We are offering tax assistance at our Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose locations. Limitations do apply. To find out if you qualify to receive free tax preparation assistance, please contact our offices:

Berkeley: Lily Vargas: (510) 540-7785 x307

Oakland: Erica Soto: (510) 532-5240

San Jose: Angie Owen: (408) 326-2669

For more information available in English and Español

Support for this project in Santa Clara County has been funded in part by the Economic Security grantmaking strategy of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.